Which are complications of untreated sleep apnea? Snoring becomes dangerous if the loose muscles of the pharynx and the falling tongue completely close the airways.
It happens and a person can’t breathe at that time. Snoring and breathing are interrupted. It can last from a few seconds to even several minutes until the person starts to gasp for the air and then snoring again. Snoring can be dangerous but sleep apnea is even worse.
We decide to write an informational article about this topic that can save you from possible danger. Sleep apnea occurs in 4 % of men population and 2% of women population. It is vital that you know the cause, characteristics and treatment for it because you can save yourself or other people you know.
So let’s see what sleep apnea really is and how you can treat it.
What is Sleep Apnea?
The term “apnea” means to stop breathing. About 2-4% of adults have at least a lighter form of OSA. It is a dynamic blockage of the upper respiratory tract (nasal passages, pharynx or throat) during sleep. Usually, the muscles are relaxed during sleep and therefore looser. The root of the tongue can slip back towards the back wall of the pharynx, and the soft and thickened soft palate can be tilted to the root of the tongue.
The patient with sleep apnea also has an inflamed or swollen mucous membrane of the nasal corridors and the pharynx. It can compress the respiratory tract, as well as enlarged tines or almonds.
If respiratory blockage lasts more than ten seconds, and if this occurs more than thirty times in seven hours, doctors talk about the obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Doctors detected up to 600 respiratory blockages per night, which can last for two to three minutes in severe cases.
A lack of oxygen supply triggers a kind of alarm in the brain that prevents suffocating. The blood pressure and heartbeat increases, and the adrenaline flow through a person’s body and the person wake up from the deep sleep. As a person is almost awake, the muscles in the nasal-pharynx cavity open and breathing is possible again.
People who snore don’t even notice this. They don’t hear their loud snoring, interruption of breathing, gasping for the air, and constant awakening reactions.
Complications of Untreated Sleep Apnea
The effects of this chronic disease are more visible throughout the day, but people are unable to explain them. They often have difficulties to concentrate and they rapidly get angry. These people suffer from a headache and tension in the shoulder and in the back.
In severe forms of apnea, extreme fatigue can occur when people sleep in a bed, at home in the armchair, in the office chair, at the cinema, and at a family meeting. Cases where people fall asleep for a second while driving is also not that uncommon.
Doctors know that people who suffer from sleep apnea are at high stress at night. The body is constantly in an alarming state and the body increasingly secretes the stress hormone cortisol and adrenaline due to lack of oxygen. The important deep sleep stages are less and the sleep is always brittle. Such people have less quality sleep and are more tired than other people.
Insufficient oxygen supply and increased secrete of stress hormones can be fatal to such person in many aspects. People may suffer from high blood pressure, heartbeat disorders, heart attacks, stroke, and diabetes. A US study has shown that the existence of obstructive sleep apnea can be an independent risk factor for the onset of pulmonary embolism. In addition, such individuals may suffer from an increased risk of potency and erectile dysfunction.
Giving a Diagnose
If you suspect that you have sleep apnea, don’t hesitate to visit a personal doctor, pulmonologist or otorhinolaryngologist. The first diagnosis is usually done using a portable device that measures the frequency and severity of snoring in the home bed. It also measures the saturation of oxygen in the blood, and how often the person is left without air.
In milder forms of sleep apnea, breathing stops for five to fifteen times on an hour and lasts for at least ten seconds every time. The next stage of sleep apnea is when a person has fifteen to thirty respiratory blocks. A severe form of sleep apnea requires absolute treatment.
What is one of the complications of untreated sleep apnea? We talk about severe sleep apnea when breathing stops for more than thirty times per hour. The doctor decides if the patient should be taken to the sleeping laboratory.
Every snoring sound, every breathing breakage, sleep depth, and blood pressure values are monitored in the sleep laboratory.
Sleep Apnea Treatment Procedures
Sometimes surgery helps (e.g. removal of enlarged tonsils or nasal polyps, less frequent correction of the nasal septum or soft-palate surgery). For lighter sleep apnea cases, sleeping clips that reduce the appearance of snoring can also be helpful, and the respiratory tract is more open. First of all, talk to your doctor about the purchase of such clips.
The most effective method for OSA is sleeping with a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) mask that delivers air under the pressure in the respiratory tract. At least 70 % of the patients immediately and significantly increase the quality of life. These patients wake up fresh and rested, and also feel very good over the day.
An oral anti-snoring prosthesis is a little less effective, but it is still a good method to use for lighter and moderate forms of sleep apnea. It is placed on the lower and upper jaw before bedtime. A dentist or jaw orthopedist who has completed the training in the field of sleep medicine makes it for the patient. There are several different models available, most of which move by the lower jaw a few millimetres down and further, and thereby prevents airway blockage.
Those who are more durable can also actively approach to snoring in a more mild form of sleep apnea. If your mask method does not suit you, you may want to try didgeridoo. The method of playing this instrument is proven to be successful with a milder form of sleep apnea. A small study from 2005 that was carried out at the University of Zurich and at the clinic in Wald proved it.
Treat Sleep Apnea Starting Now
If you see that you may have sleep apnea after reading this article, please visit your personal doctor. OSA is a serious condition that can bring not only the lower quality of life but can also be fatal. Make an appointment at your doctor and dedicate your time to solve your condition.
Now you are informed which methods can be used for treating sleep apnea, so you will have an easier time to go to your doctor. Tell him what your situation is, how are your sleeping habits, and what symptoms you have. Make the first step and all will be easier.